True Life: I have PTSD

The episode I chose to watch was on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As I was scrolling through the episodes, it caught my attention because I have recently wanted to find out more information on the subject but haven’t taken much personal action on that desire. I am currently in a relationship with a Marine Corps vet who has experienced PTSD. I have only heard very small traces of information from him on the subject as he does not like to talk about the negative experiences associated with his past involvement in the marines, which is entirely understandable. I was curious to hear a personal account of the disorder, and although I learned a little about how it can affect one’s life, I still retain a somewhat hesitant and sensitive view on it. I feel like it such a personal struggle for the person suffering from PTSD that I do not want to pry on the details of it. As for taking a medical anthropological take on it, I have done my best.

In the video, two cases were followed. Both were of U.S. war veterans and were fairly young. I think that documentary showed a combination of two narratives, chaos and quest. Restitution was definitely not relative because the individuals did not see the disorder as a quick, easily curable sickness. They both seemed frustrated and unhappy with their situations. I thought that the guy living with his parents seemed a little less optimistic, taking on the chaos narrative, while the other more directly took on the quest narrative. He was actually putting together an organization that promoted alternative medicine and therapies in treating PTSD in veterans, taking his unfortunate situation and making good use of it.

In the U.S., I think there is a slightly negative cultural stigma associated with PTSD. At least in my own experiences, it is not widely talked about or accepted, and viewed as a disorder bringing anger and frustration to the individual, shutting them off from the world and preventing them from living a normal life. The vets in the video actually gave similar accounts of the disorder but I think the general public takes on a shy reaction to the illness rather than tackling it and promoting understanding.

Although clinics offer treatment for PTSD and are readily available for vets, it was obvious in the documentary that the veterans didn’t hold too much confidence in the success of the treatments. I think that most of them feel as if it is something they must tackle on their own, and perhaps the coping mechanism taught to our soldiers greatly influences how they handle the war after returning home. I am not in agreement that such struggles should be held inside without psychiatric therapy or some other form of treatment.

I think the individual in the episode was on the right track in starting an alternative therapy organization for veterans suffering from PTSD. As addressed in the video for Lecture 1, I think a very important source of therapy is through shared narratives. Getting victims to talk rather than uphold their silent soldier personas would not only bring that sense of “I’m not in this alone” to light but would also create better understanding of the disorder to outside audiences, furthering our knowledge of the subject. Cancer and genetic disorders seem to be in the spotlight today, and while I entirely support the extensive research efforts in those areas, I feel like PTSD is not getting the attention it deserves…especially as we continue to send troops overseas, planting the disease in our own brothers, husbands and sons.

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